Washburn Shrine Model # 5330 Soprano Ukulele, made by Lyon & Healy (1927)

Washburn Shrine Model # 5330 Soprano Ukulele, made by Lyon & Healy  (1927)
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Item # 10051
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Washburn Shrine Model # 5330 Model Soprano Ukulele, made by Lyon & Healy (1927), made in Chicago, serial # 9177, dark mahogany finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original black chipboard case.

The 1920's "Shrine" design is one of the oddest and most distinctive ideas to come out of Chicago's Lyon & Healy factory, who created many interesting instruments from the 1880s through the late '20s. The unique futuristic sweeping body design was applied to a number of different instruments sold under the Washburn brand including Guitars, Tenor Guitars, Ukuleles and Mandolins. The Shrine ukulele was the only one produced in any quantity and even so is fairly rare. The metal Washburn-Lyon & Healy nameplate adorns the back of the headstock, above several stamped sets of numbers designating style and serial number, while a further batch number is on the interior heelblock. Lyon & Healy definitely believed in thoroughly marking things!

The instrument's features include nicely grained mahogany throughout, pointed ends on the headstock and fingerboard, a carved pin bridge and very unusual green celluloid used for the nut, saddle, fretboard dots and binding. And that's not even counting the amazing almost-flying-V body shape! This quite rare instrument is also a very fine playing and sounding uke. It originally belonged to someone named H.L. Altfather, who neatly wrote his name on the interior neck block and his initials on the inside back below the soundhole. He took it with him into the US Navy in 1928, as commemorated in the case lid. This is a neat provenance for this cool piece of fretted history, which is still a joy to play over 90 years along.
Overall length is 21 3/8 in. (54.3 cm.), 9 in. (22.9 cm.) width, and 2 3/4 in. (7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 13 3/4 in. (349 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/8 in. (35 mm.).

This rare uke sounds great and is in excellent overall condition. The green plastic saddle and area just in front of it on the bridge have been notched slightly to lower the action, probably decades ago. This is fairly inconspicuous except on close inspection and does result in a very nice playing instrument. There is general checking and some small finish dings and dents, but overall the lacquer remains very well preserved. One of the plastic tuner buttons was neatly replaced with a metal one, which looks like a USN workshop job to us! This Shrine uke sounds excellent; these really are a very high-grade instrument with a distinctive tone. One of the rarest and coolest higher-grade ukuleles of the 1920's, this Shrine includes the original heavy-duty chipboard case. Excellent Condition.